That Man in Siena by Ann Streetman
When Laura Langston, a nurse from Oklahoma City, went to Siena, Italy, to celebrate her 60th birthday, she was not looking for a man. But, there he was – 62-year-old Raffaele Balducci, a talented potter, jazz guitarist, father, and grandfather. His face was pleasantly wrinkled from many years under the Tuscan sun. He had lively brown eyes and dark wavy hair sprinkled with gray. Their attraction was swift and strong. Laura and Raffaele were old enough to know how love works and brave enough to search for their own way forward.
Targeted Age Group:: 21 and over
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have vacationed in Siena more than once. Of all the places I have visited in Italy, Siena is one of my favorites. It is a fascinating city dating back to medieval times. It has an aura of mystery and romance, a perfect place for two people to meet and fall in love.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My list of romance novels attests to the fact that I have a penchant for writing Italian men. Raffaele Balducci, a talented potter and widower still in love with his late wife, transferred swiftly from my imagination to the page. I had to work a bit harder to develop Laura Langston, a widow from Oklahoma City, who is thinking about downsizing and making changes in her nursing career to work her way toward retirement. Falling in love is not part of her plan.
At 1 o’clock Raffaele knocked on her door.
When she opened it, he asked, “Are you ready to go up to the studio with me?”
Laura said, “I am.”
They climbed the stairs to his studio.
He unlocked the door and stepped aside, motioning her to go in. “Please,” he said.
Laura looked around the room.
Raffaele said, “I don’t know how familiar you are with a potter’s work. Perhaps I should give you a little tour.”
Laura nodded. “I would like that,” she said.
In the center of the room was his potter’s wheel. “Come over here,” he said. “This is the most important piece of equipment. My potter’s wheel. There are many newer and probably much better potter’s wheels, but this is mine.”
He flipped a switch, and the wheel whirred. “Anna gave it to me soon after we were married.”
Several small tools were laid out on the enclosure around the wheel. He pointed to them and said, “I use these small tools to help me shape and mold, but most of it I do with my hands.”
He pointed to the closed cabinets on the left side of the room. “In those cabinets I store my clay and dyes and a few plastic molds, but I don’t use the molds very often.”
He turned and smiled at Laura. “Shall I give you a small demonstration?”
She said, “I would like that very much.”
He opened one of the cabinets, and she saw a stack of 33 rpm LP vinyl records. He pulled an album from far down in the stack.
He said, “I haven’t played this one in a very long time.” He held up the album for her to see. It was the very famous Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Album “Whipped Cream and Other Delights.”
Laura gasped, “It looks like new.”
Raffaele said, “I hope you are not offended by the sensuous cover. I mean no disrespect to you.”
He walked over to a low cabinet next to the taller ones. Opening it, he pulled out a turntable. He slid the record from its cover and very carefully placed the record on the turntable. As strains of music filled the room, he rolled up his sleeves and unbuttoned his shirt. He said, “I hope you don’t mind. I have to be comfortable and free when I work.”
Without looking at Laura, he straddled the stool in front of the wheel and began preparing a piece of wet clay.
He turned on the wheel and continued to work the clay. Then he threw it on the wheel and instantly placed both hands around the clay. Concentrating on the clay and his hands, he said, “The clay has to be smoothed and shaped. I have to feel it yielding to my touch as it becomes one with the image in my mind. Laura, come over here.” He stopped the wheel and wet the clay again.
Laura walked over to him. He got up and said, “Sit here.” She sat down and he placed her hands on the centered clay. He leaned over her and switched on the wheel. Then he placed his hands over hers and began exerting pressure, turning this way and that way. “Can you feel the clay taking shape?” he asked.
More impressed with the touch of his hands than the clay beneath her fingers, Laura said, “Yes, I can feel it taking shape, and I can feel the power of your hands.”
He kissed her head and leaned farther over her to turn off the wheel. He said, “Well, that’s a good start. We can continue the demonstration later if you wish.”
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